Massage therapy is an ancient “healing art” that is recognized as a treatment by the medical community

Massage therapy is an ancient “healing art” that is recognized as a treatment by the medical community. It is now employed in hospitals, long-term care facilities and private clinics. Research has shown that therapeutic massage can reduce stress, increase blood flow and promote healing in the soft tissues of the body, such as muscles, tendons and connective tissue. In addition, a growing number of doctors and physical therapists are prescribing it to their patients. As more health-care professionals become convinced of its value, demand for massage therapists should continue to grow.

Massage therapists deliver touch-based, noninvasive massage treatments to relax, relieve pain and speed recovery. They are trained to assess the client, develop personalized massage therapy get professional help plans and provide massage techniques to treat specific problems. Massage therapists are also responsible for providing safe, professional massage sessions and maintaining client records and documentation.

To gain a license to practice, massage therapists must graduate from a school that meets state or municipal requirements and pass one of two nationally recognized examinations administered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. They must also meet local licensure standards and obtain a liability insurance policy. Most massage therapists work as independent contractors in spas, resorts, fitness centers, hotels and medical offices, although 19% of licensed therapists report working in more than one type of practice arrangement, according to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).

In addition to learning how to perform basic massage techniques, massage therapists study anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and pathology. Anatomy and physiology courses help them understand how the different body systems operate and interrelate, while kinesiology studies muscle components, attachments, motions and structure. Pathology lessons focus on diseases, areas of caution in massage and massage contraindications for different medical conditions.

After completing their education, massage therapists can gain hands-on experience by working as an intern or working in the massage clinic at their school. Then, they need to secure a job. Some massage therapists have found that attending professional events, joining professional associations and creating a website or social media presence can help them find clients.

Most massage therapists specialize in particular types of therapy or techniques. For example, deep tissue massage involves applying firm pressure to the affected areas of the body, releasing chronic tightness and relieving pain. Other types of massage, such as acupressure and reflexology, involve pressing on specific points on the body to improve circulation and alleviate pain.

While massage therapists can treat a variety of ailments, some of their best results come from treating patients with chronic health issues. For example, if a patient has chronic ankle sprains, massage can stimulate sensory pathways and prevent future injuries by increasing the mobility of the joints. In addition, a few sessions of massage can ease symptoms of fibromyalgia, a condition that causes fatigue, stiffness and tenderness in the muscles and joints. Massage has even been known to improve the quality of life in cancer patients by reducing anxiety and fatigue, and improving sleep and mood.

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